Breaking Bad (Hashtag Hashtag) Kinda Glad It’s Over

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The Breaking Bad craze yikes. Last night I watched the final episode of the final season of that AMC show just like everyone else and saw the internet light up with the universal sign #, which means “this is what I’m referring to.” People were practically out in the streets in their excitement.

The Today Show did some a short tribute to the show at 8:15 this morning, being careful not to give away anything as I will also be careful to do here since no doubt many DVR’d the episode due to pressing football commitments or sock-sorting chores or baby-tending tasks or whatever it is that people do on Sunday nights.

I watched the live post-mortem too and was charmed both by Vince Gilligan’s humble ways and by his intelligence. Aaron Paul, who has played Jesse Pinkman for all these episodes, spoke too and he was okay though I was sorry to see that his personality seemed very much the same as it is in the show. I’m always so sad when this happens, and it happens a lot. I mean can Diane Keaton even MAKE a movie anymore where she’s not either sobbing showily or laughing maniacally?

I have no idea what Jimmy Kimmel was meant to add to the lineup there on that couch but I guess they know what they’re doing, the people who stage these events.

I will miss Gus Fring. Will he never be back in his impeccable suit?  No, alas, he will not.

I will miss Hank Schrader whose real life self I came to know a bit about by listening to ‘Fresh Air’ with Terry Gross. A Harvard kid who studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

I will miss Walter White’s lovely son, and also  Hank’s wife Marie with her purple purse and her purple rugs.

I won’t  miss all the point-blank shooting-of-people-in-the-face that became almost the show’s trademark in this last season. At the very least can’t a person be allowed to finish his sentence before this happens to him?

Well it’s over now and Bryan Cranston is now playing LBJ six miles from here at the American Repertory Theatre.

Since I mentioned talk show host Jimmy Kimmel let me also mention the great Jimmy Fallon as an introduction to this clip: a very funny takeoff on the use of hashtags by the (mostly) young. Jimmy is the funniest man in America, in my estimation and as for Justin, is there ANYTHING he can’t do?

Sit back now and give yourself a smile with this clip about hashtagging from a recent Saturday Night Live.

One, Two, Three, HIKE!

Good follow-up to a night of ‘toasting’ with Big Dave’s bridge pals: We hiked up Rattlesnake Hill.

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Encountered:

two big dogs,

several slews teens, all affectionately pawing one another,

and dozens of young parents urging their kids along with everything but electric cattle prods.

David, good host that he always is, carried a sack of drinks, so that when we got to the top we could have a Sprite Zero, a Bud Light, or a wee can of Strawberry Margarita, the latter two perhaps being somewhat in violation of trail rules…

…which may account for this image: The person behind the camera thought he was shooting a picture on my i-Phone but turned out to really be shooting a video.

Oh well! Love his laugh, anyway.Good old Charlie! Then David took this picture of toothy me. REALLY NICE WEEKEND WITH REALLY GOOD FRIENDS.. 🙂 

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“Ma’am! Excuse Me Ma’am!

lone figure night streetIt was late and I was walking farther than I would have liked to get to my hotel, since, as the woman at the front desk had told me, the gate to their garage had malfunctioned.

“Drive down a block to the city garage,” she had said airily, vaguely indicating a scarcely visible concrete structure a quarter-mile away.

I had made the trek, and parked, and had just finished walking back, past several vacant office buildings and a woman talking loudly to herself with a pair of pants wrapped around her head, when I heard another voice, just as I approached the hotel entrance.

A man was asking a young couple for money. “Hey howya doin’, folks,” he said, stepping in front of them. ”I wonder if you can you help me out here. My momma’s in the hospital up in the next county. Seems she was brought into Emergency. I’m dying to get up there but I can’t afford the fare.”

The Styrofoam take-out containers the two 20-somethings were balancing tipped a little in their hands when they found themselves thus halted, but the ‘asker’ seemed pleasant enough, which is maybe why they paused before politely declining his request and walking on.

Or maybe they paused because it’s human to pause and acknowledge people when they address you.

I know I’ve stopped to listen to an ‘asker’ many times in my life. Once, back in the 80s, when New York City was a far wilder and woolier place, I had a whole line of askers following behind me in Penn Station because, at my own foolish suggestion, they were waiting for me to change a $20 at the nearest storefront.

It’s true I had poorer boundaries back then, but it always seemed to me part of the social compact NOT to barrel along, acting as though you didn’t notice when someone was speaking to you.

I’m not saying I’m some saint when it comes to these things. I’m definitely no saint at the mall when the salespeople at the kiosks run toward me calling, “Ma’am Ma’am! YOU’D like to have softer skin wouldn’t you?” When did we become such a nation of hucksters? I grouse to myself in those circumstances. And why have I become that mall shopper who no longer dares even to smile out at the world but rather keeps her head down and just barrels on past these polished young hawkers?

It troubles me. I miss the open person I once was – and yet I know it’s not smart to engage with just anyone.

I learned this all over again upon leaving that same hotel two days later.

I had my laptop bag and my purse over one shoulder and was dragging my suitcase behind me, when a young man with what looked like a big bag of groceries began approaching me from behind and a little to my right.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw him pull an apple from the bag and kick it toward me.

”Whoops! Could you get that for me?” he said, much closer to me now. “It fell out of my bag and my hands are full!”

But my hands were also full.

And in order to help him I would have to set my own bags down.

Plus: I saw him kick it over to me. I saw him.

He had such a nice smile but it cut no ice with me. I said “Sorry pal,” kicked it back and kept on walking. And what was lost and what was gained in that decision I guess I’ll never know.

Had Some Setbacks, Had Some Fun

DSC_0091Setbacks first; the delivery guys came a third time to install our new fridge but now the plug doesn’t fit. (Sigh.) After whining about it here and then again here, I choose to think of other things today.

Like the fact that our son came home this past weekend  from faraway Arkansas and made us laugh til our sides hurt about the adventures he and his buddies had trying to drive an RV so wide that saplings were breaking off along the lonely desert road until they managed to get the hang of it. (It’s like when you’re pregnant: at first you just don’t KNOW how wide you really are.)

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Also, the Whole ABC Family gathered to celebrate Fall Family Weekend, and had such had a nice time eating and talking and cooking (and square dancing!)

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Also fun looking at pictures of ourselves doing all this. 🙂

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Then too, one of our ‘extra’ kids  came home  and did some champion sleeping in his room. (Computer Science major is not for the faint of heart; he was tired!)  We went through some of his stuff from high school and I came upon this picture from when he was just a freshman with Winchester ABC. He doesn’t look a thing like this now but what fun to be reminded of when he did. Was it only four short years ago?

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Sunday morning I took my two grandsons to eat pancakes at a McDonald’s Play Place where they came to the realization that at six and nine they now feel too big to crawl inside those large plastic intestines. Sad! The first of many closing doors for them but instead…

…Instead we came back to our house, just in time to meet the rest of the fam, pretend to watch football and bask in the joy of being all together.

Which is what it’s all about really in life. Which for sure is what it’s about. 


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Charlotte the Spider to Wilbur the Pig

This is a passage from the great E.B. White. It is in my thoughts today at the final, sure-enough end of summer. It is of course that old soul Charlotte the spider speaking to little Wilbur in his pen:

“These autumn days will shorten and grow cold. The leaves will shake loose from the trees and fall. Christmas will come and you, Wilbur, will live to enjoy the beauty of the frozen world.

Winter too will pass, the days will lengthen, the ice will melt in the pasture pond. The song sparrow will return, the frogs will awake, the warm winds will blow again.

All these sights and sounds and smells will be yours to enjoy, Wilbur, this lovely world these precious days.

May acceptance and joy in the moment be ours this day..

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Still No Luck

DSC_0092I so much want a refrigerator by now – any refrigerator! Well, any refrigerator but the one that’s been stewing in its own juices since it died here on September 8th, just before our last heat wave. That refrigerator immediately began giving off an odor like a combination of rotten eggs, dirty socks and the way a thing smells when somebody sneezes on it.

I bought the new fridge over the phone 8 days ago. last Friday, not three but SIX delivery guys found that it wouldn’t fit in the room. They suggested we hire contractors to make the adjustment necessary to getting it in here.( Those stories above.)

They came back again once we’d made those adjustments and they STILL couldn’t install it, for the simple reason that the floor under the old fridge had rotted completely away . Evidently a leak some time in the Clinton Administration just chewed away the solid old support beams that shore up the kitchen .

“It’s a wonder this thing didn’t fall clear through the floor and land in your basement!” said one delivery guy.

“It did seem to be kind of rocking when you opened it  I noticed lately ” said a family member.

“I’m afraid to step here!” trilled a second delivery guy.

Then Brave Dave came home and ‘stepped there’ with our carpenter-pal Dick Iannetti. They worked together most of yesterday cutting out the old beams. Dick will come back today and finish putting in the new.

Pretty funny to think what might have happened: ‘Got Milk?’.” Sure,  let me just reach in here. Whoa!!!”  FoompAnd only settling dust left to tell the tale. 

This is the wood under the old one: As they used to say in Ancient Rome,  “Res ipse ‘loquitur! The thing speaks for itself. This was taken in the kitchen. Those are the  bricks of the chimney it backs up to. And that golden light center front? That’s coming up from the cellar.

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It Came It Saw, It Went Away Again

busted old fridgeThis was Day Six with no refrigerator. The start of that tale is here.

The new one came, it saw, and it went away again. What did it see, you might ask? It saw it couldn’t fit into the kitchen.

“Sorry,” the three delivery guys said after ten minutes of chin scratching,  “It’s just not gonna happen.”

“But…” I sputtered. “The old fridge is the same make and model. I mean we didn’t build the kitchen around it!”

“Ah but see you got handles projecting from this new one. You didn’t have handles with the old one.”

“So let’s take the handles off.”

“Can’t do that. It voids the warranty.”

I was alone with these guys so I said “Let me just called my husband at work.” I called Old Dave and told him the situation.

“Tell them to take off the door from the dining room,” he said in that annoyingly reasonable way a person has who, though not present, is giving advice to people who are.

“We tried that. It’s not gonna fit.”

“The back door then.”

“Tried it.”

“The porch door.”

“Tried it. (Do you think we’re idiots?’ I thought about saying, suddenly siding with my new pals the delivery guys.)

“Why don’t YOU talk to them,” I said and handed the phone to one of the men.

“Hi! So what do you think? What can we do?“ he asked them.

“Well there is one door. The one leading from the living room.” Then the man holding my phone half-turned to me too, out of courtesy I think .“You folks will have to  call someone to take off the door and pull out the radiator.”

“WE can do THAT,” I snorted. “We’ve been taking off doors and pulling out radiators for years.”

“But this swinging door with this big iron spring? I’ve never seen a door like THIS door and I’m 31!” I didn’t say that the house was four times older than that. I knew it though, and knew that the spring was original to the house.

“Ok then so we’ll get the door off and move the radiator and then call you guys back over.”

“You know you have to drain the whole system,” he said

“We do it all the time,” I said.

And so they left. and took our new fridge but tell ya what: Twenty-four hours later the door was OFF and the system was all drained, We moved the radiator too, three ton thing that it is, and yes entered another week without a fridge-  but somehow felt triumphant just the same.

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A Miracle All Right

the miracle workerYou go to school to learn, of course, but how much learning takes place outside school? A lot, that’s how much. Only think of all you have learned outside the classroom.

Think how you struggled to turn the idioms of that new language you were taking in school. What on earth did the French phrase ‘to sleep on both ears’ mean? It took a while to understand that it meant to sleep soundly.

Think of the time you first tied your own shoes. Maybe you were four or five and sitting on your back steps, working away at the wobbly loops of those laces until, almost on their own, they executed a sort of pirouette and resolved into: a bow!

Remember the moment in William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker when young Helen Keller finally understands that there’s a relation between what is spilling over the palm of one of her hands from the pump and the movements being drummed into the palm of her other hand? When she ‘sees’ at last that one signifies the other? That this lovely cool stuff has a name, and the name is water?

Helen Keller speculates in her autobiography that she made the connection in part because, as she learned much later, ‘water ‘ had been one of her first words at age one, just before a sudden illness robbed her of sight and hearing both. But in large part too it was the tireless repetition of the signs worked into her hand by her dedicated teacher Annie Sullivan.

We learn language through repletion, by big people leaning down toward us like gods from their tall high world, cooing the words we will soon enough speak: ‘Baby.’  ‘Mamma.’  ‘Blankie.’

We learn so much through repetition: The multiplication table. The names of the state capitals. The principles that together build the precisely balanced scales that is mathematics.

But other things we learn in other ways. We learn both by sudden insight, and by a slow sort of dawning.

Take insight. Take the first time you really understood that poem you had to analyze for English class. You went along reading the thing, often distracted rather than helped by its rhythms, your eyes scanning along until – bang! you slammed into a word you did not expect. You thought ‘huh’?  Then ‘ahhhh’! Because suddenly the poem’s tight little bud of inscrutability had opened like a flower, revealing fold after fold of meaning, layer after layer of beauty.

Then take slow dawning, the things you learn by degrees:

  • As in the way you come slowly to realize that when you dislike someone almost on sight it is because of something you see, or think you see, in that person that reminds you of a part of yourself you have split off from or tried to deny.
  • As in the way you come slowly to see that not hate, but a willed indifference is the opposite of love.
  • As in the way you slowly recognize that love is not a feeling at all, despite what all the songs say. It’s more a decision, love is. When I think of the people I love it’s as if I am saying to them with every thought and deed, “I’m for you, kid. I am in your corner.”

Why live at all if not to learn? What would separate us from a pot of plastic daisies were we to stop even trying?

I get so excited when the school year starts. We still have so much more to understand!

Now, under this picture of the real Helen Keller and her teacher, is the ‘water scene’ from that great 1962 film.

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I’m Still Doing It

vacationing in my 021I’m still doing it: I’m still vacationing in my driveway. This picture was taken two whole cars ago. This green van yielded to a red van and now I have a blue one – and we keep all our cars for seven years so that’s a while now.

But I’m still doing it: pulling up outside my garage and just sitting there for a spell watching everything. The ivy growing. The icicles yearning down from the garage roof. The sparkles of snow accumulating on my windshield.

On the last day of my grey cat’s life, he and I sat in this driveway for quite a spell, he ill and sluggish but happy to be out all the same. His name was Abraham and the two of us looked out the car windows together for a good 20 minutes before making that last ride to the vet’s . We saw the sky and the brave pink flowers – I say ‘brave’ because it was downright cold for April on that day. We saw the sky.

I don’t know what Abe thought about except his pain. I thought about how many more crisp New England springs my husband David and I would see from this yard of ours, knowing that Abe was seeing his last.

We’re worlds away from April now it feels like but I guess the beauty of these Fall days has me thinking the same kind of large slow thoughts.

Yesterday as I sat outside, a dragonfly perched on my lap and stayed for two whole minutes as I watched him, fascinated.

I’m so glad my driven nature occasionally lets me just sit and look around like this. You try it too now, with feet out your car window or not, as you wish.

Just sit and look and think you thanks for every graceful and lively sight you see.

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Slime City

imgresI haven’t written much this week because something horrible happened Monday.

Our refrigerator died.

We didn’t know it had died for almost 24 hours.

We went to bed, woke up in the morning, and the baloney was slimy.

The eggs were sweating.

And the black beans and broccoli crowns in their little bowls….

Well, let’s not get into the black beans and the broccoli.

Weatherwise we started the week on the cool side. Then temps soared into the 90s.

We considered our options. We’ve repaired this refrigerator four times just in the last ten years. Even the repair guy, who has gone to Florida several times thanks to this old fridge, couldn’t recommend that we fix it again when he came again last May.

We knew we had to buy a new one and we knew it had to fit in the cut-out made in the cabinets for the old one, back when we did this kitchen over in the late 1980s. Which meant it had to be by the same manufacturer. And the cost of the new model is like four times the money my family spent to send me to college back in my era which was the Woodstock era..

Plus, it might not fit. We measured and talked to the salesmen, measured and talked and it looks like the old fridge, though the same brand as this new one, is half an inch taller. Which means when the guys come in a few minutes, it really might NOT fit. Plus it’s so old, its hookups might not match: the places where the electrical cord goes and also the water source that makes those clunky half moons of ice for you.

So, they may just have to leave it in the middle of the kitchen floor until we can also call a plumber, a carpenter, and electrician. Unless Dave can act in all those capacities, which he probably can.

Sigh. Tell ya what, nothing is easy.

I better stop now and go look our front for them. They’ll need face masks I’m pretty sure, and maybe some of that highly mentholated stuff for putting under their noses.